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And smote his army, when the Assyrian king,
haughty of Hamath and Sepharvaim fallen,
Blasphemed the God of Israel.
Yet the fight
Hung doubtful, where, exampling hardiest deeds,
Salisbury mow’d down the foe, and Fastolffe strove,
And in the hottest doings of the war
Tower'd Talbot. He, rememb'ring the past day
When from his name the affrighted sons of France
Fled trembling, all astonish'd at their force
And wontless valour, rages round the field
Dreadful in fury; yet in every man
Meeting a foe fearless, and in the faith
Of Heaven's assistance firm.
The clang of arms
Reaches the walls of Orleans. For the war
Prepared, and confident of victory,
Forth speed the troops. Not when afar exhaled
The hungry raven snuffs the steam of blood
That from some carcass-cover'd field of fame
Taints the pure air, wings he more eagerly
To riot on the gore, than rush'd the ranks;
Impatient now for many an ill endured
In the long siege, to wreak upon their foes
Due vengeance. Then more fearful grew the fray;
The swords that late flash'd to the evening sun"
Now quench'd in blood their radiance.
O'er the lost
Howl'd the deep wind that, ominous of storms,
Roll'd on the lurid clouds. The blacken'd night
Frown'd, and the thunder from the troubled sky
Roard hollow. Javelins clash'd and bucklers rang;
Shield prest on shield; loud on the helmet jarr'd
The ponderous battle-axe; the frequent groan
Of death commingling with the storm was heard,
And the shrill shriek of fear.
Even such a storm
Before the walls of Chartres quell'd the pride
Of the third Edward, when the heavy hail
Smote down his soldiers, and the conqueror heard
God in the tempest, and remember'd him
Of the widows he had made, and in the name
Of blessed Mary vow'd the vow of peace. "7
Lo! where the holy banner waved aloft,
The lambent lightnings play. Irradiate round,
As with a blaze of glory, o'er the field
It stream'd miraculous splendour. Then their licarts
Sunk, and the English trembled; with such fear
Possess'd, as when the combined host beheld
The sun stand still on Gibeon, at the voice
Of that king-conquering warrior, he who smote
The country of the hills, and of the south,
From Baal-gad to Halak, and their chiefs,
Even as the Lord commanded. Swift they fled
From that portentous banner, and the sword
Of France; though Talbot with vain valiancy
Yet urged the war, and stemm'd alone the tide
Of conquest. Even their leaders felt dismay;
Fastolffe fled fast, and Salisbury in the rout
Mingles, and, all impatient of defeat,
I}orne backward Talbot turns. Then echoed loud
The cry of conquest, deeper grew the storm,
And darkness, hovering o'er on raven wing,
Brooded the field of death.
Nor in the camp
Deem themselves safe the trembling fugitives.
On to the forts they haste. Bewilder'd there
Amid the moats by fear, and the dead gloom
Of more than midnight darkness, plunge the troops,
Crush'd by fast following numbers who partake
The death they give. As rushing from the snows
Of winter liquefied, the torrent tide
Resistless down the mountain rolls along,
Till at the brink of Hiddy precipice
Arrived, with deafening clamour down it falls:
Thus borne along, tumultuously the troops,
Driven by the force behind them, plunge amid
The liquid death. Then rose the dreadful cries
More dreadful, and the dash of breaking waves
That to the passing lightning as they broke
Nor of the host, so late
Triumphing in the pride of victory,
And swoln with confidence, had now escaped
One wretched remnant, had not Talbot's mind,
Slow as he moved unwilling from the war,
What most might profit the defeated ranks
Ponder'd. He, reaching safe the massy fort
Named from St John, there kindled up on high
The guiding fire. Not unobserved it blazed;
The watchful guards on Tournelles, and the pile
Of that proud city in remembrance fond
Call'd London, light the beacon. Soon the fires
Flame on the summit of the circling forts
Which girt around with walls and deep-delved moats,
Included Orleans. O'er the shadowy plain
They cast a lurid splendour; to the troops
Grateful as to the way-worn traveller,
Wandering with parch'd feet o'er Arabian sands,
The far-seen cistern; he for many a league
Travelling the trackless desolate, where heaved
With tempest swell the desert billows round,
Pauses, and shudders at his perils past,
Then wild with joy speeds on to taste the wave
So long bewail'd.
Swift as the affrighted herd Scud o'er the plain, when frequent through the sky Flash the fierce lightnings, speed the routed host Of England. To the sheltering forts they haste, Though safe, of safety doubtful, still appail'd And trembling, as the pilgrim who by night, On his way wilder'd, to the wolf's deep howl Hears the wood echo, when from the fell beast Escaped, of some small tree the topmast branch He grasps close clinging, still of that keen fang Fearful, his teeth jar, and the big drops stand On his cold quivering limbs.
Nor now the Maid
Greedy of vengeance urges the pursuit.
She bids the trumpet of retreat resound;
A pleasant music to the routed ranks
Blows the loud blast. Obedient to its voice
The French, though eager on the invaders' heads
To wreak their wrath, stay the victorious sword.
Loud is the cry of conquest as they turn To Orleans. There what few to guard the town Unwilling had remain'd, haste forth to meet The triumph. Many a blazing torch they held, Which, raised aloft amid the midnight storm, Flash'd far a festive light. The Maid advanced;
Deep through the sky the hollow thunders rollid; to Innocuous lightnings round the hallow'd banner Wreath'd their red radiance. Through the open'd gate Slow past the laden convoy. Then was heard The shout of exultation, and such joy The men of Orleans at that welcome sight Possess'd, as when, from Bactria late subdued, The mighty Macedonian led his troops Amid the Sogdian desert, where no stream Wastes on the wild its fertilizing waves. Fearful alike to pause, or to proceed; Scorch'd by the sun that o'er their morning march Steam'd his hot vapours, heart-subdued and faint; Such joy as then they felt, when from the heights Burst the soul-gladdening sound! for thence was seen The evening sun silvering the vale below, Where Oxus roll'd along. Clamours of joy *cho along the streets of Orleans, wont Long time to hear the infant's feeble cry, The mother's frantic shrick, or the dread sound, When from the cannon burst its stores of death. Far flames the fire of joy on ruin'd piles, And high heap'd carcasses, whence scared away From his abhorred meal, on clattering wing Rose the night-raven slow. In the English forts Sad was the scene. There all the livelong night Steals in the straggling fugitive; as when Past is the storm, and o'er the azure sky Serenely shines the sun, with every breeze The waving branches drop their gather'd rain, Renewing the remembrance of the storm.
Staong were the English forts, "9 by daily toil
of thousands rear'd on high, when arrogant
With hoped-for conquest Salisbury bade rise
The mighty pile, from succour to include
Resieged Orleans. Round the city walls
stretch'd the wide circle, massy as the fence
Erst by the fearful Roman on the bounds
Of Caledonia raised, when soul-enslaved
Her hireling plunderers fear'd the car-borne chiefs
Who rush'd from Morven down.
Crested the ample bulwark, on whose top
Secure the charioteer might wheel along.
The frequent buttress at just distance rose
Declining from its base, and sixty forts
Lifted aloft their turret-crested heads,
All firm and massy. But of these most firm,
As though of some large castle each the keep,
Stood six square fortresses with turrents flank'd,
Piles of unequall'd strength, though now deem'd weak
Gainst puissance more than mortal. Safely hence
The skilful archer, entering with his eye"
The city, might, himself the while unseen,
Through the long opening shower his winged deaths.
Loire's waves diverted fill'd the deep-dug moat
The morning came. The martial Maid arose.
Lovely in arms she moved. Around the gate
Eager again for conquest throng the troops.
High tower'd the Son of Orleans, in his strength
Poising the ponderous spear. His batter'd shield,
Witnessing the fierce fray of yesternight,
Hung on his sinewy arm.
• Maiden of Arc,”
So as he spake approaching, cried the Chief,
“Well hast thou proved thy mission, as by words
And miracles attested when dismay'd
The stern theologists forgot their doubts,
So in the field of slaughter now confirm'd.
Yon well-fenced forts protect the fugitives,
And seem as in their strength they mock'd our force.
Yet must they fall.»
• And fall they shall', replied
The Maid of Orleans. “Ere the sun be set,
The lily on that shatter'd wall shall wave
Triumphant.—Men of France! ye have fought well
On yon blood-reeking plain. Your humbled foes
Lurk trembling now amid their massy walls.
Wolves that have ravaged the neglected flock!
The Shepherd—the Great Shepherd is arisen'
Ye fly! yet shall not ye by flight escape
His vengeance. Men of Orleans! it were vain
By words to waken wrath within your breasts.
Look round ! Your holy buildings and your homes,<
Ruins that choke the way! Your populous town,
One open sepulchre! Who is there here
That does not mourn a friend, a brother slain,
A parent famish’d—or his dear loved wife
Torn from his bosom—outcast—broken-hearted-
Cast on the mercy of mankind?”
The cry of indignation from the host
Burst forth, and all impatient for the war
Demand the signal. These Dunois arrays
In four battalions. Xaintrailles, tried in war,
Commands the first; Xaintrailles, who oft subdued
By adverse fortune to the captive chain,
Still more tremendous to the enemy,
Lifted his death-fraught lance, as crst from carth
Antaeus vaunting in his giant bulk, when graspt by force Herculean, down he fell Wanquish'd, anon uprose more fierce for war.
Gaucour o'er one presides, the steady friend
To long-imprison'd Orleans; of his town
Beloved guardian, he the dreadful siege
Firmly abiding, prudent still to plan
Irruption, and with youthful vigour swift
To lead the battle, from his soldiers' love
Prompter obedience gained, than ever fear
Forced from the heart reluctant.
The third band
Alençon leads: he on the fatal field
Werneuil, when Buchan and the Douglas died,
Fell senseless. Guiltless he of that day's loss,
Wore undisgraced awhile the captive chain.
The Monarch him mindful of his high rank
Had ransom'd, once again to meet the foe
With better fortune.
O'er the last presides
Dunois the bastard, mighty in the war.
His prowess knew the foes, and his fair fame
Confess'd, since when before his stripling arm
Fled Warwick; Warwick, he whose fair renown
Greece knew and Antioch and the holy soil
Of Palestine, since there in arms he pass'd
On Ballant pilgrimage; yet by Dunois
Baftled, and yielding him the conqueror's praise.
And by his side the martial Maiden pass'd,
Lovely in arms as that Arcadian boy
Parthenopaeus, when, the war of beasts ***
Disdaining, he to murder man rush'd forth,
Bearing the bow, and those Dictaean shafts
Diana gave, when she the youth's fair form
Saw soften'd, and forgave the mother's fault.
St Loup's strong fort stood first.
Commands the fearful troops.
As lowering clouds
Swept by the hoarse wind o'er the blacken'd plain,
Moved on the host of France: they from the fort,
Through secret opening, shower their pointed shafts,
Or from the battlements the death-tipt spear
Hurl fierce. Nor from the strong arm only launch'd
The javelin fled, but driven by the strain'd force
Of the balista, "4 in one carcass spent
Stay'd not; through arms and men it makes its way,
And leaving death behind, still holds its course
By many a death uncloggid. With rapid march
Right onward they advanced, and soon the shafts,
Impell'd by that strong stroke beyond the host,
Wasting their force, fell harmless. Now they reach'd
Where by the bayle's embattled wall "5 in arms
The knights of England stood. There Poynings shook
llis lance, and Gladdisdale his heavy mace
For the death-blow prepared. Alençon here,
And here the Bastard strode, and by the Maid
That daring man who to the English host,
Then insolent of many a conquest gain'd,
Bore her bold bidding. A rude coat of mail “”
Unhosed, unhooded, as of lowly line,
Arm'd him, though here amid the high-born chiefs
Pre-eminent for prowess. . On his head
A black plume shadow'd the rude-featured helm “o
Then was the war of men, when front to front
They rear'd the hostile hand, for low the wall
Where the bold Frenchman's upward-driven spear
Might pierce the foemen.
As Alençon moved,
On his crown-crested helm "3 with ponderous blow
Fell Gladdisdale's huge mace. Back he recoil'd
Astounded; soon recovering, his keen lance
Thrust on the warrior's shield: there fast-infix -l,
Nor could Alençon the deep-driven spear
Recover, nor the foeman from his grasp
Wrench the contended weapon. Fierce again
He lifts the mace, that on the ashen hilt
Fell full; it shiver d, and the Frenchman held
A pointless truncheon. Where the Bastard fought
The spear of Poynings through his plated mail
Pierced, and against the iron fence beneath "9
Blunted its point. Again he speeds the spear;
At once Dunois on his broad buckler bears
The unharming stroke, and aims with better fate
IIis javelin. Through his sword-arm did it pierce,
Maugre the mail. Hot from the streaming wound
Again the weapon fell, and in his breast
Even through the hauberk drove.
But there the war
Raged fiercest where the martial Maiden moved,
The minister of wrath; for thither throng'd
The bravest champions of the adverse host:
And on her either side two warriors stood
Of unmatch'd prowess, still with eager eye
Shielding her form, and aiming at her foes
Their deadly weapons, of themselves the while
Little regarding. One was that bold man
Who bade defiance to the English chiefs.
Firmly he stood, untired and undismay’d,
Though on his burgonet the frequent spear
Drove fierce, and on his arm the buckler hunt;
Heavy, thick-bristled with the hostile shafts,
Even like the porcupine when in his rage,
Roused, he collects within him all his force,
Himself a quiver. And of loftier port
On the other hand tower'd Conrade.
A jazerent of double mail he wore,
Beneath whose weight one but of common strength
Had sunk. . Untired the conflict he endured,
Wielding a battle-axe ponderous and keen,
Which gave no second stroke; for where it fell,
Not the strong buckler nor the plated mail
Might save, nor crested casque. On Molyn's head,
As at the Maid he aim'd his javelin,
Forceful it fell, and shiver'd with the blow
The iron helm, and to his brain-pan drove
The fragments. At their comrade's death amazed.
And for a moment fearful, shrunk the foes.
That instant Conrade, with an active bound. '"
Sprung on the battlements; there firm he stood,
Guarding ascent. The herald and the Maid
Follow'd, and soon the exulting cry of France
Along the lists was heard, as waved aloft
The holy banner. Gladdisdale beheld,
And hasting from his well-defended post
Sped to the fiercer conflict. To the Maid
He strode, on her resolved to wreak his rage,
With her to end the war. Nor did not J.O.A.N.
Areed his purpose: lifting up her shield
Prepared she stood, and poised her sparkling sp. ar.
The English Chief came on; he raised liis mace;
with circling force, the iron weight swung high,"
As Gladdisdale with his collected might
Drove the full blow. The man of lowly line
That instant rush'd between, and rear'd his shield
And met the broken blow, and thrust his lance
Fierce through the gorget of the English knight.
A gallant man, of no ignoble line,
Was Gladdisdale. His sires had lived in peace,
They heap d the hospitable hearth, they spread
The feast, their vassals loved them, and afar
The traveller told their fame. In peace they died;
For them the venerable fathers pour'd
A requiem when they slept, and o'er them raised
The sculptured monument. Now far away
Their offspring falls, the last of all his race,
Slain in a foreign land, and doom'd to share
The common grave.
Then terror seized the host,
Their Chieftain dead. And lo! where on the wall,
owark'd of late by Gladdisdale so well,
The Son of Orleans stood, and sway’d around
He fochion, keeping thus at bay the foe,
To on the battlements his comrade sprang,
Abd raised the shout of conquest. Then appall'd
The English fled : nor fled they unpursued,
For mingling with the foremost fugitives,
The gallant Conrade rush'd; and with the throng
The knights of France together o'er the bridge
Rush'd forward. Nor the garrison within
Durst let the ponderous portcullis fall.
For in the entrance of the fort the fight
Raged fiercely, and together through the gate
The vanquish'd English and their eager foes
Pass d in the flying conflict.
Well I deem
And wisely did that daring Spaniard act
At Vera-Cruz, when he, his yet sound ships
Dismantling, left no spot where treacherous fear
Mohi still with wild and wistful eye look back.
For knowing no retreat, his desperate troops
In conquest sought their safety; victors hence
At Tlaseala, and o'er the Cholulans,
And by Otompan, on that bloody field
when Mexico her patriot thousands pour’d,
Fierce in vain valour on their dreadful foes.
There was a portal to the English fort
which open d on the wall;" a speedier path
In the hour of safety, whence the charmed eye
Might linger down the river's pleasant course.
Fierce in the gate-way raged the deadly war;
For there the Maiden strove, and Conrade there,
And he of lowly line, bravelier than whom
Fought not in that day's battle. Of success Desperate, for from above the garrison
But foremost of the French,
Dealing destruction, Conrade rush'd along;
Heedless of danger, he to the near fort
Pass'd in the fight; nor did not then the Chief
What most might serve bethink him : firm he stood
In the portal, and one moment looking back
Lifted his loud voice : thrice the warrior cried,
Then to the war address'd him, now assail'd
By numerous foes, who arrogant of power
Threaten’d his single valour. He the while
Stood firm, not vainly confident, or rash,
But of his own strength conscious, and the post
Friendly; for narrow was the portal way,
To one alone fit passage, from above
O'erbrow'd by no out-jutting parapet,”
Whence death might crush him. He in double mail
was arm'd; a massy burgonet, well tried
In many a hard-fought field, helming his head;
A buckler broad, and fenced with iron plates,
Bulwark'd his breast. Nor to dislodge the Chief
Could the English pour their numbers, for the way
By upward steps presented from the fort
Narrow ascent, where one alone could meet
The war. Yet were they of their numbers proud,
Though useless numbers were in that strait path,
Save by assault unceasing to out-last
A single warrior, who at length must sink
Fatigued with conquering, by long victory
There was amid the garrison
A fearless knight who at Werneuil had fought,
And high renown for his bold chivalry
Acquired in that day's conquest. To his fame
The thronging English yield the foremost place.
He his long javelin to transpierce the Frank
Thrust forceful : harmless in his shield it fix’d,
Advantaging the foe; for Conrade lifts
The battle-axe, and smote upon the lance,
And hurl’d its severed point” with mighty arm
Fierce on the foe. With wary bend the foe
Shrunk from the flying death; yet not in vain
From that strong hand the fate-fraught weapon fled :
Full on the corselet' 25 of a meaner man
It fell, and pierced, there where the heaving lungs,
In vital play distended, to the heart
Roll back their brighten'd tide: from the deep wound
The red blood gush'd : prone on the steps he fell,
And in the strong convulsive grasp of death
Grasp'd his long pike. Of unrecorded name
The soldier died; yet did he leave behind
One who did never say her daily prayers
Of him forgetful; who to every tale
Of the distant war, lending an eager ear,
Grew pale and trembled. At her cottage-door
The wretched one shall sit, and with dim eye
Gaze o'er the plain, where on his parting steps
Her last look hung. Nor ever shall she know
Her husband dead, but tortured with vain hope
Gaze on... then heart-sick turn to her poor babe,
| And weep it fatherless!
The exasperate knight
Drew his keen falchion, and with dauntless step | Moved to the closer conflict. Then the Frank
Held forth his buckler, and his battle-axe - Uplifted, where the buckler was below
Rounded, the falchion struck, but impotent
To pierce its plated folds; more forceful driven,
Fierce on his crested helm the Frenchman's stroke
Fell; the helm shiver'd; from his eyes the blood
Started; with blood the chambers of the brain
Were fill'd; his breast-plate with convulsive throes
Heaved as he fell. Victorious, he the prize
At many a tournament had borne away
In mimic war: happy, if so content
With bloodless glory, he had never left
The mansion of his sires.
The English stood, nor durst adventure now
Near that death-doing man. Amid their host
Was one who well could from the stubborn bow
Shower his sharp shafts: well skill'd in wood-craft he,
Even as the merry outlaws who their haunts
In Sherwood held, and bade their bugles rouse
The sleeping stag, ere on the web-woven grass
The dew-drops sparkled to the rising sun.
He safe in distance at the warrior aim'd
The feather'd dart; with force he drew the bow;
Loud on his bracer struck the sounding string;
And swift and strong the well-wing'd arrow flew.
Deep in his shield it hung; then Conrade raised
Again his echoing voice, and call'd for aid,
Nor was the call unheard; the troops of France,
From St Loup's captured fort along the wall
Haste to the portal; cheering was the sound
Of their near footsteps to the Chief; he drew
His falchion forth, and down the steps he rush'd.
Then terror seized the English, for their foes
Swarm'd through the open portal, and the sword
Of Conrade was among them. Not more fierce
The injured Turnus sway’d his angry arm,
Slaughtering the robber fugitives of Troy;
Nor with more fury through the streets of Paris
Rush'd the fierce king of Sarza, Rodomont,
Clad in his dragon mail.
Like some tall rock, Around whose billow-beaten foot the waves Waste their wild fury, stood the unshaken man; Though round him prest his foemen, by despair Hearten'd. He, mowing through the throng his path, Call'd on the troops of France, and bade them haste Where he should lead the way. A daring band Follow'd the adventurous chieftain; he moved on Unterrified, amid the arrowy shower, Though on his shield and helm the darts fell fast As the sear'd leaves that from the trembling tree The autumnal whirlwind shakes.
Nor Conrade paused;
Still through the fierce fight urging on his way,
Till to the gate he came, and with strong hand
Seized on the massy bolts. These as he drew,
Full on his helm the weighty English sword
Descended; swift he turn'd to wreak his wrath,
When lo! the assailant gasping on the ground,
Cleft by the Maiden's falchion : she herself
To the foe opposing with that lowly man,
For they alone following the adventurous steps
Of Conrade, still had equall'd his bold course,
Shielded him as with cager hand he drew
The bolts: the gate turn'd slow: forth leapt the Chics,
And shiver'd with his battle-axe the chains
That hung on high the bridge. The impetuous troops, By Gaucour led, rush'd o'er to victory.
The banner'd lilies on the captured wall
Toss'd to the wind. • On to the neighbouring fort!»
Cried Conrade; a Xaintrailles! ere the night draws on,
Once more to conquest lead the troops of France!
Force ye the lists, and fill the deep-dug moat,
And with the ram shake down their batter'd walls;
Anon I shall be with you.” Thus he said;
Then to the Damsel : « Maid of Arc' awhile
Cease we from battle, and by short repose
Renew our strength.” So saying he his helm
Unlaced, and in the Loire's near flowing stream
Cool'd his hot face. The Maid her head unhelm’d,
And stooping to the stream, reflected there
Saw her white plumage stain'd with human blood!
Shuddering she saw, but soon her steady soul
Collected: on the banks she laid her down,
Freely awhile respiring, for her breath
Quick panted from the fight: silent they lay,
For gratefully the cooling breezes bath'd
Their throbbing temples.
It was now the noon :
The sun-beams on the gently-waving stream
Danced sparkling. Lost in thought the warrior lay,
Then as his countenance relax'd he cried,—
w Maiden of Arc at such an hour as this,
Beneath the o'er-arching forest's chequer'd shade,
With that lost woman have I wander'd on,
Talking of years of happiness to come!
Oh, hours for ever fled ! delightful dreams
Of the unsuspecting heart! I do believe
If Agnes on a worthier one had fix d
Her love, that though my heart had nurst till death
Its sorrows, I had never on her choice
Pour'd one upbraiding... but to stoop to him
A harlot '... an adulteress' o 126
In his eye
Red anger flash'd; anon of what she was
Ere yet the foul pollution of the court
Stain'd her fair fame, he thought. " Oh, happy age!»
Ile cried, a when all the family of man
Freely enjoy'd their goodly heritage,
And only bow'd the knee in prayer to God!
Calm flow'd the unruffled stream of years along,
Till o'er the peaceful rustic's head the hair
Grew grey in full of time. Then he would sit
Beneath the coetaneous oak, while round,
Sons, grandsons, and their offspring join'd to form
The blameless merriment; and learnt of him
What time to yoke the oxen to the plough,
What hollow moanings of the western wind
Foretel the storm, and in what lurid clouds
The embryo lightning lies. Well pleased, he taught,
The heart-smile glowing on his aged cheek,
Mild as the summer sun's decaying light.
Thus quietly the stream of life flow'd on,
Till in the shoreless ocean lost at length.
Around the bed of death his numerous race
Listen'd, in no unprofitable grief,
His last advice, and caught his latest sigh :
And when he died, as he had fallen asleep,
Beneath the aged tree that grew with him
They delved the narrow house : there oft at eve